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Claimants who are entitled to new style employment and support allowance (ESA) are being pushed into claiming universal credit (UC) instead, even though they may be much worse off as a result, due to the inflexibility of the claims system and the poor training given to DWP staff.

Welfare rights workers are reporting huge problems with claiming new style ESA, which is available to some claimants who have paid sufficient national insurance contributions.

Claimants phoning the UC claim line in Full Service areas discover that every single option relates to UC.

Even if you choose ‘Any other queries’ from every option, you are likely to be put through to a DWP call handler who knows nothing about how to claim new style ESA.

One advisor said that the call handler stated that they had specific guidance about new style ESA but, when he consulted it, the guidance told staff to contact his team and they would deal with it.

After getting further advice the call handler then explained that claims for new style ESA are completely separate from UC, even though claimants must use the UC line to make their claim.

The call handler then said he could either email or post out a form for making the claim and said that he would raise the problem as a training issue as his colleagues probably didn’t know any more than he did.

Undoubtedly a lot of people will give up and simply make a claim for UC instead when faced with a bureaucratic brick wall like this.

But new style ESA is potentially a better benefit for many people to claim, not least because:

it isn’t affected by your savings;

it isn’t affected by your partner’s earnings;

it is paid fortnightly, not monthly.

Some claimants are eligible for both new style ESA and a top-up of UC.

Anyone trying to make a claim for new style ESA is advised to be very persistent in insisting that they are claiming this benefit rather than UC, no matter how hard call handlers try to persuade you otherwise.


0 #5 KevinJ 2018-02-26 16:52
I recently ended my job owing to long term sickness. The employer came to a compromise agreement with my union, meaning I left with a payment. When I tried to claim contribution based ESA online, I was directed to the UC site. I submitted my claim and six weeks on haven't been paid a penny, even though I have to attend interviews at my JC and submit fit notes. When I queried the claim with the JC worker, I was informed that I had claimed income based UC. She was very cagey, so I continued to press the point in emails. She eventually said I could claim contribution based 'New Style' ESA, but I would likely get LESS money, even though I have savings? I'm still arguing the point with them, but the distinct impression I am under is they don't want to deal with new sytle ESA claims. Whether this is through ignorance of the rules or they've been told to do this is the question. I have a gut feeling that I won't get a penny under UC as I have over the threshold in savings owing to my lump sum from work? Any help on this would be appreciated, because I know I qualify for the new sytle ESA as it isn't means tested. I worked for 15 years, so have enough NI paid in.
0 #4 Jacquie 2018-02-15 17:34
I have lost my job due to ill health. Was advised to claim ESA. Telephone to ESA and told to claim UC online. Completed UC , nothing on site to tell me what to do with fit note. Call to UC. They make appointment at Job Centre to take fit note. Attend appointment to be told can't make UC claim as my husband hasn't completed online application. I advised he's not good with computer but more importantly he doe not wish to make a claim. Reiterated I am making claim for benefit due to MY ill health only. Workers reply? It's means tested benefit and you're married so can't proceed without him opening an online account and claiming. I repeated....he has NO wish to claim any benefit! Worker gave me telephone number to call and claim ESA contribution based.!! Have applied for that and actually spoke with a lady who listened and wanted to help. She completed my ESA claim but had to speak with her manager before she put it through. Her manager would not allow her to put claim through. The reason? ESA and UC funds come from different money pot!!
I'm not going to give up but really have no idea how or resolve this.
+2 #3 SH 2017-11-29 09:54
This has been going on for a year - my husband made a claim a year ago for JSA and was asked the irrelevant questions, when insisting the questions were not relevant to his claim - the call handler said she would end the call and his claim if he didn't give the requested information. W e would not be entitled to any income related benefits because of savings. We complained about this line of questioning afterwards. We were told that the call handlers were not employed by DWP - but an outside agency. The irony of it is that my husband was not entitled to JSA because he did not have enough paid NI Contributions, he had contribution credits though from carers allowance which did not contribute to his NI record for JSA - only for ESA and pension. They stitch you up all ways
+2 #2 MrFibro 2017-11-28 22:29
It's an utter disgrace and a pathetic shambolic system. No good implementing new systems before they have been completely tried out, and tested, and the bugs have been ironed out. All this should had been a slow rollout piloted scheme, and of course fully training DWP staff on how to implement any new or updated systems. As usual at the expense of the claimants and subsequently causing more health issues, due to the continuous long stress process, and non, or wrong payments if any being made to the claimants. Its as though introducing new changes or updates, just makes matters much worse than they already are.
+3 #1 ThisGovernmentsGoneToFar 2017-11-28 12:54
It never stops amazing me how these incompitent fools act, they simply just just won't stop peeeeeing people off this whole system has gone way far beyond a joke now? If there's a god please help us.

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